Sunday, March 13, 2011

On being 36

Sequence of images showing a peach decaying ov...Image via WikipediaNote: Zemanta chose the rotting peach picture. I just like its non-sequitur value. This post has little to do with rotting peaches, except perhaps metaphorically.

Yesterday was my 36th birthday. The big shocker was a year ago today, and 36 has no specific resonance to it beyond putting me by some definitions in my 'late thirties'. It's four years to go before the real heart-attack.

But what gets me about my age - and make no mistake, growing old bothers me immensely - is that it seems more and more absurd every year. 36-year-olds are old! In many ways, my perspective on age hasn't changed a bit since, well, since my mid-twenties, I guess. If introduced to a 20-year-old and a 40-year-old, I just automatically assume I'll have more in common, generation-wise, with the 20-year-old.

I went to my old university a month ago, for the first time since graduating. On the bus there I found myself thinking that the time lapsed would make the students there seem shockingly young. The rather more disturbing reality, however, was that I didn't feel that at all. The people surrounding me there seemed very much 'my age', despite the obviousl fact that they weren't. And despite the obvious fact that they were probably asking themselves who that old guy was. I'm sure that if I sat down and talked to them, I would indeed find that the generation 'gap' approached levels of cultural disconnect. But I didn't see them as young; maybe that's my way of not seeing myself as old.

It's not an arrested-development thing; I don't shy away from 36-year-old responsibilities. Granted, I perhaps haven't done all the life-step things a 36-year-old by now should have - I still don't own a car and I have a 20-year-old's approach to retirement - but I'm not freaked out by being a husband, a father, a homeowner, or stuff like that. I don't harbour resentment that I don't have time anymore for my XBox, or whatever, or to go to concerts all the time. I'm quite comfortable behaving as, more or less, a 36-year-old should.

But none of that helps me to feel 36. Hell, the spare tire I've put on and those increasingly-frequent grey hairs should help, that nagging voice in my head that tells me Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space is a 'new' album should help. But I don't. It's not that I have any desire to feel younger than I am, it's just that at some point I stopped feeling my 'correct age'.

Sooner or later, this will make me an embarrassment. Perhaps I need more friends my own age. Shrug.

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